Ai Weiwei: Feels like I just paid $1.3M ransom

By the Associated Press | November 15, 2011 | 11:55 PM EST

Ai Weiwei walks to a room to discuss legal issues with his lawyers at his studio in Beijing, China, Monday, Nov. 14, 2011. Dissident Chinese artist Ai said Monday that supporters have sent him nearly $1.4 million to help him fight a huge tax bill that he says is government harassment. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

BEIJING (AP) — Outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei says he feels like he has paid a ransom, after depositing $1.3 million into a government account in a bid to contest tax authorities' claim his company owes $2.4 million.

He deposited the guarantee late Tuesday so that he could challenge the bill levied against his company. They now have 60 days to submit an appeal against the tax assessment — which Ai's supporters have called an attempt to silence a high-profile government critic.

Ai was detained for nearly three months earlier this year during an overall crackdown on dissent.

The artist went to a local tax bureau Wednesday to fill in paperwork for his $1.3 million guarantee, and told reporters he felt like he was paying a ransom.